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Women, peace and security

04.03.2020 - Article

The role of women in peacekeeping and in conflicts is a prime focus of Germany’s UN Security Council membership. The aim is to anchor gender equality, participation and the protection of women as key elements of foreign and security policy.

Foreign Minister Maas with Nobel laureate Nadia Murad, human rights lawyer Amal Clooney and UN Secretary-General António Guterres in the UN SC on 23 April 2019
Foreign Minister Maas with Nobel laureate Nadia Murad, human rights lawyer Amal Clooney and UN Secretary-General António Guterres in the UN SC on 23 April 2019 © Thomas Koehler/photothek.net

The role of women in peacekeeping and in conflicts is a prime focus of Germany’s UN Security Council membership. The aim is to anchor gender equality, participation and the protection of women as key elements of foreign and security policy.

Involving women in peace processes is nothing new. For decades, women have been working at grassroots level for their rights, including in conflict zones and in peace processes. This is in stark contrast to formal peace negotiations, where women are still generally excluded. Although studies prove that women’s participation increases the chances of peace negotiations having lasting success, only 8% of negotiators between 1990 and 2017 were women. With that in mind, the Security Council adopted Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security back in 2000. Over the years, it has been given concrete substance by follow‑up Resolutions 1820, 1888, 1889, 1960, 2106, 2122 and 2242 and by follow‑up Resolution 2467, which was sponsored by Germany. These Resolutions focus on four points: firstly, women are to be more strongly represented and actively involved at all levels of peace processes per se and in security policy in general; secondly, all people are to be protected against sexual violence in armed conflict; thirdly, women must be an integral element of all conflict prevention measures; and, fourthly, all aid, reconstruction and reintegration measures must take gender-sensitive account of the needs of men and women.

Priority issue in the Security Council

“Women, peace and security” is one of the focuses of Germany’s Security Council membership. Germany is committed to women’s increased participation in crisis prevention and peace processes, as well as to improved protection against sexual violence. To this end it is working in various ways: firstly, through improved mainstreaming when dealing with crises and extending mandates; secondly, in co‑chairing with the Dominican Republic the responsible Security Council Working Group (Informal Experts Group on Women, Peace and Security, IEG); thirdly, Germany deliberately invites women experts from civil society to Security Council Sessions; and, fourthly, it chairs informal meetings of the Security Council on this issue.

In addition, during its Security Council Presidency in April 2019, Germany took several measures to push the “Women, peace and security” agenda:

  • Organisation of the traditional Security Council Open Debate on Sexual Violence in Conflict, with 90 speakers, including Nobel Peace Prize laureates Nadia Murad and Denis Mukwege, lawyer Amal Clooney, civil society representative Inas Miloud (Libya), UN Secretary-General António Guterres and UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict Pramila Patten.
  • Adoption of new Security Council Resolution 2467 (2019) on conflict-related sexual violence as a targeted instrument to strengthen accountability and provide effective support to survivors of sexual violence (survivor-centred approach). An overview of the Resolution (in German) can be found here.
  • Organisation of an event to mark the 20th anniversary of Resolution 1325 at which a total of 77 UN member states, regional organisations, UN bodies and international NGOs pledged support for over 400 specific voluntary commitments on women’s equal and effective participation in peace processes and on protection against sexual and gender-based violence.

Important cross-cutting dimension of foreign, security and development policy

The German Government regards the implementation of Resolution 1325 as a cross‑cutting theme, which needs to be taken into account in all its decisions, activities and projects in the realm of foreign, security and development policy.

Federal Government’s National Action Plan

The second Federal Government Action Plan to implement the Resolution (in German) for the period 2017‑2020 contains measures to foster the greater involvement of women in crisis prevention, conflict management and post-conflict peacebuilding and to protect women and girls against violence in armed conflicts. Cooperation with civil society on this issue has been further expanded. Topics and priorities from civil society work can be collated and taken up in various strategic and substantive formats for exchange so as to improve the implementation of the “Women, Peace and Security” agenda.

Women, Peace and Security Focal Points Network

The supraregional Women, Peace and Security Focal Points Network (FPN) was established in 2016 on the fringes of the UN General Assembly to promote exchange on best practices on the implementation of the principles anchored in Resolution 1325. The Network, comprising over 80 states and regional organisations such as the EU or African Union, meets twice yearly – on the fringes of the General Assembly in September and in the capital of the country holding the chair. Germany chaired the Network in 2018, the second country to do so since its foundation, handing over to Namibia in 2019. The third meeting of the Network in the chair’s capital took place in Windhoek, Namibia, in April 2019.

Women, peace and security in the EU

At European level Resolution 1325 is implemented in the context of the European Security and Defence Policy.

As a regular participant in the EU’s Women, Peace and Security Task Force, Germany is involved in EU decisions and activities relating to the implementation of Resolution 1325. The Task Force members are representatives of the European Commission, the Council Secretariat and the member states.

The EEAS Principal Advisor on Gender and on the implementation of UNSC Resolution 1325, Mara Marinaki, worked with the Informal EU Task Force on Women, Peace and Security to draw up the new Strategic Approach to WPS, which was presented at the end of 2018. Key points of the new approach: 1) women’s political participation and involvement in decision-making, including equal and meaningful participation in all political, economic, security-policy and social aspects of their societies; 2) measures against sexual and gender-based violence; 3) support for proactive measures to further women’s economic empowerment, with decisive benefits for the economy and society; 4) strengthening national implementation frameworks in EU member states, such as national action plans (NAP) and equivalent strategic documents.

Empowering women specifically: African Women Leaders Network

On the initiative of the African Union and UN Women, the Network aims specifically to strengthen women’s leadership role in Africa’s transition, particularly in the fields of governance, peace and stability. The Federal Government supports AWLN’s work, for instance by providing funding for AWLN‑run projects to promote women’s participation in peace processes or to develop the Network’s institutional capacities or by supporting the establishment of national branches strongly involved in implementing projects on the ground.

Further information

German participation in peace missions

Action Plan of the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany on the Implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security for the Period 2017‑2020 (in German)

Implementation Report on the Action Plan of the Federal Republic of Germany on the Implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 for the Period 2013 to 2016

EU Council Conclusions on Women, Peace and Security of December 2018

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